Theo Walcott had an excellent game on Saturday against Blackburn Rovers. He made three of the goals—two assists in two of Robin van Persie's three goals, and one to set up Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's goal.
After the match, the accolades, understandably, followed the goal scorers, but there's no doubt that Theo Walcott's importance in this match was just as valuable.
I took note of this fact in my review of this match. I repeat those comments here out of laziness than from any sense of self-importance.
Hardly has Theo Walcott's name been mentioned in the euphoria that has followed this sweet victory. There's a reason why.
Theo Walcott is an inconsistent player. But like I and others have always maintained, he will yet grow and get better.
He did well today, even though he didn't score. Understandably, the recognition goes to the goal scorers. There's nothing wrong with that, but we shouldn't forget to laud the other players too.
Although this sounds a little too obvious and a shad presumptuous, I believe it's important to give the player his due of commendation when he does well.
Granted that Walcott's form has been too inconsistent this season, but he is one of those players who is unlucky with the press. One narrative about him has become a cliché. This is unfortunate.
Reacting to his role in this match, this is what Walcott, himself, says:
"One of my main jobs as a winger is to get assists. The goals are a secondary thing.
Some of them against Blackburn were just tap-ins so it was like a goal really. I hope it made Robin's job easy."
Many would agree that all of the three assists were world-class. If Walcott can keep this up, then, perhaps, the "brainless" cliché would go away once and for all.
The cliché itself reveals more about the ones spouting it than it does Walcott.
But there's no doubt that Walcott needs to raise his game if he is to make the England Euro 2012 squad.
There's now plenty of competition for the wing role—Adam Johnson, Ashley Young, Scott Sinclair, Nathan Dyer, and his own teammate, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.
TalkSport printed the following stats after the Arsenal-Swansea match. It's a comparison of Theo Walcott with Swansea's wing duo. The purpose was to show that Walcott has a competition in his hand for the wing position.
Here are the stats for the other English wingers.
As you can see, despite the criticisms, Theo Walcott compares favorably with all of England's available wingers.
The other player, who does not make this list for obvious reasons, Gareth Bale, is still rated higher than Theo Walcott.
It is my believe that Gareth Bale is a highly overrated player, but his hat trick at Inter Milan last season still has everyone cooing in admiration of his "immense skill."
There's no doubt that there is skill there. But has Gareth Bale produced any performance equaling that feat since? No. He is thus as inconsistent as Theo Walcott, yet the media continues to sing his praise.
I could be alone here.
Back to Theo Walcott.
One hope is that Walcott will recreate his Blackburn form in the remainder of the season. In such an event, not only would Arsenal benefit, but also England, and the player himself.
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